One of the issues I’ve always had with playing games on my phone is that my fingers get in the way. For games like Dead Trigger 2, N.O.V.A 3, or even emulators like GBCoid and GameBoid,the controls often take up valuable screen space. I don’t know about you, but I love my screen space. It doesn’t matter what device I’m using. Whether it’s a 10 inch tablet or a 5 inch phone, my screen space is important. I need it. I crave it. It’s mine. My own. My precious. And no unnecessary controls are going to get in my way.
Fortunately, Phonejoy’s Bluetooth game controller (and some light medication) solves these problems. Shaped like the sort of controller you’re used to, the Phonejoy has brilliantly solid built quality. Starting at $70 for the most basic package, build quality should be nothing less than excellent and Phonejoy definitely delivers.
The Phonejoy features the usual buttons. You get 4 face buttons (X, Y, A, B) and 4 rear buttons (L1, L2, R1, R2), which are really responsive and provide excellent feedback; you can easily tell that you’re pressing them. Sadly, the same cannot be said with the D-Pad. It’s incredibly stiff and there’s very little travel. You’d be a lot better off using the joysticks which are infinitely better. They’re soft to the touch and are pressure sensitive, making for an excellent gaming experience.
On the front, the Phonejoy also has the Start and Back buttons, useful for navigating through the Android interface. The power slider sits on the top right, while the other slider inverts your y-axis, something which fans of FPS games will really appreciate. On the back, you get your microUSB charger and the orange charging LED. I’m not sure if it’s just my model, but there are some serious light bleeding issues here. Speaking of which, the battery life is around 8 hours which is not bad. Charging time is relatively quick, with it getting back to 100% within 2 hours.
The controller itself is quite light and can fit in most pockets, making it relatively portable. I know many people who would disagree and state that the Phonejoy is too big to be comfortably portable but these people wear skinny jeans with shallow pockets so their opinions are inherently invalid.
The controller features a sliding design, so you can fit a whole range of devices into it. The sliding chassis is reassuringly springy and feels very sturdy. The largest phone it can fit horizontally is the Galaxy Note 3. It does feel a bit too tight in the beginning, but you get used it. Getting the phone in and out is very straightforward and simple; slide the controller open and pop your phone in/out.
Tablet users needn’t fret about their devices not fitting in the slider since the Phonejoy can also fit devices in vertically. But don’t get too excited yet. While that’s nice and everything, there aren’t many games which you can play on your device when it’s vertical. Most games are made to be played horizontally. Dead Trigger 2, Real Racing, Asphalt, N.O.V.A, you name it. And even if you do find some vertical game, almost all of them – like Temple Run or Cut The Rope, for example – don’t really need a controller at all.
That being said, the Phonejoy connects to your device via Bluetooth, so you don’t need pop your device in the controller if you don’t want to. You can prop your device horizontally and just use the controller wirelessly as you normally would. There’s very little lag between pressing a button and seeing the result in the game. Additionally, you can even answer calls during your gaming session; set the call to speakerphone and continue playing. It’s really quite impressive.
If you do use it without a device in the slider, I found that the Phonejoy feels unnaturally small and cramped. It’s just not ergonomically feasibly to use the Phonejoy without something propping it open. It’s definitely not as wide as a standard PlayStation or Xbox controller and it does feel a bit weird when not expanded.
Most phones these days have the microUSB port and headphone jack at the bottom and if you’ve put the phone in the controller, these ports get blocked. The $80 Advanced package comes with little accessories that extend your microUSB and headphone jacks laterally, so you can use your headphones or even charge the device without causing any issues.
It works very well with phones which have the headphone jack at the top and the microUSB port at the bottom, but for devices like the Galaxy Nexus which have both on the bottom, you might run into problems; using one accessory will block the other’s port. The headphone jack can rotate to free up space, but the microUSB port takes up the entire width of the phone.
The Phonejoy also has its own app in the Play Store which helps with the setup process as well as showing you compatible games. The app isn’t necessary but it definitely helps when searching for compatible games. Even some apps like GBCoid and Gameboid, which don’t show up in their compatible apps list, work incredibly well with the controller. You can navigate through your phone using the controller, too. It’s a lot slower than if you just use your phone normally, but it’s really useful if your phone’s connected to the TV and you can’t be bothered to get up.
All in all, the Phonejoy is a brilliant gaming controller and although the price may be a tad on the expensive side, it provides an excellent gaming experience. And the fact that it supports all major OS platforms (including PC!) makes the Phonejoy even more of a joy to use. With its multi-OS compatibility, unique design, responsive controls, and reassuringly sturdy spring-loaded slider, the Phonejoy is hands-down one of the best controllers out there on the market right now.